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5 Year Old Will Not Play on His Own
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5 Year Old Will Not Play on His Own

My 5 year old pesters us all day long and will not play on his own.  He has toys but does not want to play with them.  He complains constantly that he wants someone to play with.  He is with one adult and no other childern for most of the day.

How can we get him to play on his own?  Or, is this just normal?  
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I am a stay home mother of 2 boys, ages 7 and 4....and let me tell you, I have put in countless hours playing with my children!!  It does get exhausting, but I always did it partly out of enjoyment and partly out of the sense that it is my "duty" as a stay home mother.  I must admit, all of my playtime with the kids has made them VERY creative, imaginative, and smart....but it has also made them VERY needy and dependent on me!  I am just now getting to the point where I wish I had let them do more playing on their own.
I remember growing up with my 3 older siblings, and I can't remember more than 2 instances when my mother or father actually sat down and played with me....and I turned OK.  My advice to you would be to set up play dates with other children, go to story hour at the library, open-gym time at the local school...anything to get your child to play more independently.  I think it is very healthy for children to have a balance of play time and interaction time.  Good luck!
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dmn,  I don't understand the dynamic in your home.  Who is "we" who gets pestered all day long and wants to be left alone?

When my kids were about that age they didn't play by themselves,  either.  They had each other,  but they preferred to be in the company of parents.  So all day long,  I was with all of them and in the evening we were all together.

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My 5yo son does similar. Kids are supposed to play, that is their "work". I wish I knew how to handle it better, like balancing together playtime, including him in the household chores, and playing by himself while I get my stuff done. How do you get organized? Seems like there are some things you can do WITH the distraction of a child, but others are nearly impossible to accomplish (for me, anyway) because it is so hard to focus with those distractions.

Do you feel guilty when you tell him no, you can't play right now? And then he keeps coming back, "watch this, help me find this, play with me", etc? I sure do. So I try to take time out to play, but he acts like it is never enough, even if we go somewhere together just to play. How do you achieve that balance? Acquire some structure?

The feeling that you are being pestered is probably reflected in your responses to your child. I know I get that way, irritable, annoyed. Even when I want to just play, but knowing there are things that have to get done-bills,phone calls,cooking, home repairs. Then mad at myself for being irritated-gosh, he is the love of my life, and only a kid. OF COURSE he wants to play. OF COURSE he wants parental attention. And so he should.Those are NEEDS, not wants.

So, KAnnH and RockRose, how do you do it so that your and your child's needs are met? My inlaws seem really good at that, but my family never was, and I seem to be following the same path as my family when that is THE ABSOLUTE LAST THING I want to do. That "children should be seen, not heard" mentality. How do you stop that?
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I actually spend MOST of my days playing with my children...and I do enjoy it (don't get me wrong)!  However, I don't feel that it is healthy for me or my children to play together ALL day everyday....children need time to play and discover on their own.  Being creative in times of boredom are extremely important in the development of a child both socially and cognitively.  If a child is constantly entertained, he will become SO dependent on you that he will eventually be incapable of functioning on his own.

Also, as an adult, I just need more stimulation throughout the day than playing "Woody and Buzz" for hours on end.  What I do (and it seems to work well for my family most of the time),  is play for a couple of hours, then tell the kids they need to play on their own for an hour.  Weather this is a video, coloring, napping, whatever it may be...they need some time to function on their own.  And usually after an hour or so of "downtime" I'm ready to play with them again.  This has taken some training, but my children are used to this idea by now.  I am actually in the phase of pushing even more independent time as summer approaches....they CAN play in the yard without my having to watch them every minute.

Good luck!
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